In-depth reviews

Ford Puma SUV review

"The Ford Puma is the best small SUV to drive and represents good value but its looks are divisive"

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Used car deals

Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Practical
  • Good value

Cons

  • Polarising looks
  • Limited engine choice
  • Average warranty

The Ford Puma name has been revived, but in keeping with current trends, this time it's for a small SUV rather than a coupe. It was a controversial move among Ford fans, but the result is a model that has a crossover stance and a bigger boot than the Ford Focus.

If there's a class in which a quirky design has proved successful before, it's the one the Puma now finds itself in; the Nissan Juke that effectively kicked off the crossover segment looked like nothing else on sale. That's also true of the Toyota C-HR, even if a few other contenders, such as the Renault Captur, Skoda Kamiq and SEAT Arona, represent more conventional designs.

Unlike rivals such as the Juke and Peugeot 2008, the inside of the Puma is much more traditional. Sit in one of the car’s seats and the Puma feels a lot like a Fiesta on stilts, albeit a roomier one thanks to extra space in all directions. There's a new digital instrument cluster for the first time in a Ford, but the central infotainment screen is familiar and some of the dark grey plastics are rather unadventurous. At least the infotainment is clear and easy to use.

From launch there are three versions of Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, an entry-level 124bhp version and two mild hybrids with 124 and 153bhp. These three-cylinder petrols are well suited to the Puma's lively character, with the top version offering brisk acceleration from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds. The mild-hybrid system works effectively to harness the energy usually wasted while slowing down, using it to take some strain off the combustion engine. The resulting figures of around 48-50mpg with CO2 emissions ranging between 126-133g/km make the Puma affordable to run for both private and business drivers.

It might be fairly tall, but Ford's engineers have worked their magic on the Puma's chassis, and it's a good crossover to drive, with a pleasant manual gearbox, nice steering and little body lean. Know-how and some shared parts with the excellent Fiesta help here, and the Puma feels as engaging as many well-sorted hatchbacks. Along with the current 1.0-litre, a diesel and 1.5-litre Ford Puma ST are also expected, the latter with the same 197bhp engine as the Fiesta ST.

Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X trim levels are available with a high-spec ST-Line X Vignale arriving later in 2020. Standard kit on the Puma includes 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, wireless phone charging and an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. ST-Line adds a sporting makeover and digital instrument panel, while ST-Line X brings part-leather trim, tinted glass and a B&O sound system. They can also be upgraded to First Edition versions, with extra convenience features and luxuries like a heated steering wheel.

Larger in every direction than the Fiesta, the Puma is big enough to steal some Focus sales, and its 456-litre boot is actually a bit bigger and more practical, with a handy washable storage 'MegaBox' liner, adjustable floor and flexible parcel shelf that accommodates tall items. There's also decent room in the back for passengers, although it misses out on the sliding rear bench of the Renault Captur.

With small SUV sales soaring, the Puma is a very important model for Ford. It might not be the most beautiful but it already looks like the crossover to choose if you value driving fun. With mild-hybrid technology, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine should also ensure it isn’t expensive to run.

Most Popular

Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?
2020 Ford Puma - front tracking
Ford Focus hatchback
10 Nov 2020

Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?

Refreshed 2020 Land Rover Discovery breaks cover
Land Rover Discovery
10 Nov 2020

Refreshed 2020 Land Rover Discovery breaks cover

What is ESP on a car?
Tips and advice
10 Nov 2020

What is ESP on a car?

More on Puma

Best small SUVs
Small SUVs
26 Nov 2020

Best small SUVs

If you want the advantages of an SUV with the running costs of a family hatchback, our top 10 run-down explains which are the best small SUVs to pick.
Best hot hatchbacks
Best cars
19 Nov 2020

Best hot hatchbacks

The best hot hatchbacks offer sports car thrills and performance with everyday usability and practicality for a reasonable price.
Ford Puma ST SUV review
Ford Puma ST
15 Nov 2020

Ford Puma ST SUV review

"The Ford Puma ST is great to drive, has a brilliant engine and offers all the practicality of an SUV with hot hatch thrills"
The UK's top 10 best-selling cars
Best cars
13 Oct 2020

The UK's top 10 best-selling cars

Here we analyse the trends in new car buying patterns and give you a run down of the most popular cars in the UK
2020 Ford Puma ST performance SUV breaks cover
Ford Puma SUV
24 Sep 2020

2020 Ford Puma ST performance SUV breaks cover

New Ford Puma ST has 197bhp and sprints from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds
2020 Ford Puma ST teased ahead of September reveal
Ford
10 Aug 2020

2020 Ford Puma ST teased ahead of September reveal

Performance-focused Ford Puma ST will use same 197bhp engine as Fiesta ST and cost around £27,000
Ford Puma gets automatic gearbox and ST-Line X Vignale trim
Ford Puma
1 Jun 2020

Ford Puma gets automatic gearbox and ST-Line X Vignale trim

2020 Ford Puma available in new top-spec ST-Line X Vignale trim
Ford Puma: old vs new
Ford Puma
22 May 2020

Ford Puma: old vs new

Ford surprised fans by using the 'Puma' name for its new SUV - we see how it compares with the original coupe